Sunday, April 17, 2016


Male proboscis monkey, photo ©Ikki Matsuda
When it comes to monkeys, proboscis monkeys are probably the weirdest-looking ones of all, which is why I wanted to tell you about them first!  Their scientific name is Nasalis larvatus, which means "long-nosed."  In Indonesia, they are sometimes called "Dutch monkeys" or "Dutchmen" because the Indonesians noticed that the Dutch colonizers had large bellies and noses, just like the monkeys. 

In Ancient Egypt, proboscis monkeys were worshiped because they were unique and thought to be special to the gods.  Of course, cats were also worshiped, which I think, as a chihuahua, was another reason why the Ancient Egyptians were somewhat lacking in good sense!

Female and male;

Nowadays, the proboscis monkey can only be found on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo, which contains the nations of Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.  Unfortunately, this monkey is considered to be an ENDANGERED SPECIES because its population has shrunk by more than 50% in just the past 40 years or so.  This is happening mostly because people keep cutting down the forests where the monkeys live.  When they are forced to come down out of the trees to get food, they are more vulnerable to predators such as jaguars and native peoples who consider the monkeys to be tasty delicacies.

It is very easy to tell male proboscis monkeys from females because males have the really big noses, which can be as long as 7 inches.  Also, males are bigger than females.  They can weigh as much as 50 pounds, but the females are only half that big.  The monkeys' coats are long, with the fur on the back being bright orange, reddish brown, yellowish brown, or brick-red.  The underfur is light-grey, yellowish, or light orange.  Proboscis monkey faces are orange-pink.  Both sexes have bulging stomachs and webbed feet.  These monkeys do a lot of swimming, and their webbed feet help them swim faster than any crocodiles who might want to eat them.

Proboscis monkeys live in bands of one male, two to seven adult females, and their offspring.  There may also be all-male bands.  Because they are not very territorial, the smaller bands of monkeys often come together into larger groups near water to sleep. The monkeys prefer to stay up in the trees as much as possible, but if they have to, they look for food down on the ground.

Female Proboscis Monkey

Male proboscis monkeys use their big, sexy noses to attract females.  The noses allow them to make a louder call that impresses the females and scares competitors away.  However, it is the female who initiates mating, and she will only do that if there is plenty of food to support her offspring.  The gestation period is between 166 and 200 days.  Birth usually occurs at night or in the early morning.  Baby monkeys begin to eat solid food at six weeks, and they are weaned at seven months.  Noses on young monkeys grow slowly until the animals reach adulthood.  A mother monkey will allow other members of the band to hold her infant.  But when the leader of a one-male group is replaced, the mother may leave, fearing that the new leader will kill her baby.

Proboscis Monkey Family in Malaysian Borneo. Photo © HUTAN

The main foods for proboscis monkeys are fruit and leaves, but they also eat flowers, seeds, and insects. Basically, they have to eat whatever is in season, so from January to May, they eat mostly fruit, and from June to December, mostly leaves.  The monkeys avoid eating ripe fruit because the sugars in fruit can ferment in their stomachs and cause fatal bloating.  Their stomachs are complex, with several chambers, and sometimes monkeys chew their cud to help digestion.

"Does this tummy make me look fat?"

Proboscis monkeys start each day by foraging for food as they travel inland.  Then they rest for a while and later move back toward the river as they forage again.  They must always watch out for predators such as crocodiles, clouded leopards, eagles, monitor lizards, and pythons.

Okay, so now you know all about the ugly proboscis monkeys.  Maybe next time I will pick a cute monkey to tell you about!

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